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- 29 July 2016 00:00
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- Last Modified: 29 July 2016 07:37
Five years ago I was training for the 2012 Olympics. I was ‘living the dream’ as a full time athlete. I had a small taste of international success, running internationally, being mentored by Kelly Holmes and being selected to train full-time on a British Triathlon talent programme. But one day I was two hours through a typical Sunday morning ride, having already completed a 2hr swim. And my fate changed. I was knocked off my bike and hit by an oncoming Landrover. I lay on the ground in an unimaginable amount of pain with 12 broken vertebrae, two punctured lungs, multiple broken ribs and a broken collarbone. I was the only person in the scene who didn’t think I was going to die. I was lucky and owe my life to a passing Leciester Tigers physio and the Air Ambulance service. Without whom I would certainly not have survived.
Lying in my hospital bed my life had never been simpler. I had only one goal. Survive. But very quickly I got myself out of hospital. So focused on my goal of being the best athlete I could be, I was back in an international triathlon event 6 months after being picked off the road. Metalwork was holding my back together, I taught myself to breathe, walk, run and swim again, I competed ignoring my broken collarbone. In my mind I had to overcome my cycling fears and get back to the startline as quickly as possible. I was on a blinkered mission. Everyday I would wake up with agony in my back and continue my extreme training programme.
After more spinal surgery, I re-enrolled in university and came to a dramatic conclusion. That I didn’t really enjoy training. A full time triathlon training programme is 35hrs a week of gruelling, long, repetitive and lonely exercise. I realised that to be the best in the world, I needed to set myself on another 4 year journey and hope that I didn’t get unlucky. For the first time ever I thought about all the other things I couldn’t do. I was 21, with 35hrs a week of training you can’t have a career, you can’t properly explore the world and go travelling, relax on the weekends or do crazy sports that might risk injury.
So I set off for Beijing and cycled home, to raise money for the air ambulance that saved my life. I raised 10k and settled into a ‘real job’. Very quickly I realised something very strange. I wasn’t exercising and I dreaded doing it. Something I’d previously fill my days with. I dreaded going to the gym and believed I realised why the majority of adults don’t exercise as much as they should: because they don’t like it. So I quit my job to found Rabble. Rabble disguises exercise as games, so that you play hard to win and get fit without realising it. We play everything from British Bulldogs to Capture the Flag, Dodgeball, Frisbee, the Hunger Games and more. All the games are designed so they are enjoyable, different every time and so that anyone can join in without any previous experience.
Bizarre as it may sound, I would claim that now I am living the dream. I am working on a mission I truly believe in, making a positive difference to people’s lives with a much greater impact than I could ever have made as an athlete. I am lucky to be here with my life and I’m determined not to waste a day.